Friday, March 31, 2006

Blog quizzes

These are always fun!

You Are Kermit

Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.
You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.
Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.
Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

You Are Olive Green

You are the most real of all the green shades. You're always true to yourself.
For you, authenticity and honesty are very important... both in others and yourself.
You are grounded and secure. It takes a lot to shake you.
People see you as dependable, probably the most dependable person they know.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tired of the Search

I have been sending out resumes for a few weeks. I am frustrated knowing that most likely I will never get a call from any of my submissions, and it will take some random connection from networking that will finally get me a position. I know I can do these jobs, and do them well. There are some that I read about that I actually feel great about the possibility. Unfortunately, so many of the posts are from agencies and the jobs don't really exist anymore. I am signed up with three agencies, which means I took the typing & Microsoft Office tests, filled out extensive paperwork, and had meetings with the associates -- and so far the only result was being sent out on one interview for a long-term position.

I had an amazing interview at a community organization where we know someone who works there. Our friend brought my resume to HR and they invited me to interview even though there are no open positions. I met with the nice HR person for over an hour -- she said a lot of great things about my experience and that I would be a good possiblity for the possible future jobs opening up. But obviously this doesn't mean anything if there are no open positions right now.

The resume and cover letter game is also annoying. I have seen job descriptions a page long on some of the internet sites, but I am supposed to keep my experience/education/skills/contact info to no more than a page. There is no way to completely describe the many facets of my last job in four bullet points, though I continue to revise and rewrite.

I will continue later this week after I see if I get any more responses to my latest resume submissions.

Thanks to everyone for your support.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Got a few interviews

I have been a bit frustrated with the slow start to the job search process. Although there is a specific position that I would like, I don't have the "keyword" experience to get picked for interviews when I am one of many applying. And since I need to work, I may have to take a position that is not what I really want to do. I finally have a few interviews, though one is for a job I really don't see myself doing and the other is "in case something opens up in the future."

The most promising, though, is actually not from applying for a job but from a friend passing the resume to a business contact, who passed it to a specific person at another employment agency. So I do have to go through all the ridiculous agency tests again, but the person I spoke to actually has direct hire positions in mind for me.

If I am not employed by the end of the week, I may also try a job fair although I feel very awkward about approaching the recruiters.

So I am feeling less worried about being unemployed, but just frustrated that most likely I will not be progressing in a direction that I want to and instead will be doing the same thing yet again. But at least G-d willing we'll have health insurance and be able to pay our bills.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A friendly community

It's hard to meet people here in the winter because everyone stays inside, but today was the beginning of spring weather and we had a great Shabbos afternoon very similar to when we first moved here. Everyone walks around visiting each other, people sit out on their lawn, and you meet a lot of new faces. In the 10 minute walk to my in-laws, we ran into friends we hadn't seen in months, who introduced me to a woman walking by that I had spoken to on the phone but never met. Then my son ran ahead and started talking to another little boy, and we ended up schmoozing with the parents for a while.

The best experience like this happened our third day here. We got to Cleveland on Friday and Shavuos was on Sunday night. So on Sunday we were buying food and met someone in the store. She told me that every year her friend gave an open ice cream social on Shavuos, and told me to just show up. I am normally really shy about doing something like that but I thought it couldn't hurt so I went over and there were a ton of people standing around outside. One of them immediately introduced herself, then stuck with me throughout the next hour introducing me to various people. A few weeks later, she arranged a meal with several other couples with kids my son's age so we could make those connections.

To me, this is the true meaning of a community and I love it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

School office issues

One of the top undervalued professions is the administrative assistant. This person is the first contact for your clients, the one who makes sure things get done on time, and often in charge of financial matters as well. But as usual, they want a highly skilled person for as little money as possible. (Sometimes they don't even want a highly skilled person because they are afraid they will get a better job, so they purposely hire a mediocre person.) During my job hunt, I most often see positions looking for someone with extensive computer skills, often a 20 line list of tasks and responsibilities, and requesting someone with 5+ years of experience -- but the salary listed is $20K. Or they want someone to do a full time job in part time hours so they can avoid paying benefits. (This was my experience at my previous job -- I had to work very hard to convince my boss's boss that the head of a school needs an assistant for more than 15-20 hours a week.)

Anyway, I got a demonstration of this point today when I attempted for th third time to deal with a billing error at my son's school. (They cashed a check but never entered it intot he computer so I am still getting billed.) I had been unable to get a person on the phone, and received no response to my letter, so I went in with the actual check. The front-desk person was helpful, directing me to the billing office and explaining to the person there what the problem was. He essentially said that it wasn't his job and I needed to talk to "Jane." Problem: Jane isn't in the office today (and I got the idea from the ensuing conversation that she has been out a lot lately and falling behind in work.) Helpful office person starts SCREAMING at unhelpful person, right in front a parent (me). Person ignores us and gets on a phone call. Helpful person made a copy of the check and wrote a note for Jane to call me, then continued screaming at unhelpful guy.

But if I approached them about hiring me, assuming they admitted that they were understaffed, I am sure they would offer an insulting salary. And I know that when I bring the situation to the business manager's attention, which I intend to do, he won't care or take any action.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rule #1 of customer service


My husband went to get meat and the guy behind the counter (who would be handling the food) was puffing away.

Needless to say, we had to spend extra to get the meat somewhere else!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A better way to grow up

To all those who said "CLEVELAND????" when we moved:

Today our family went to see how they make maple syrup. We went on a hike to see the different collection methods they use to get out the sap (and tasted some right out of the tree), and then learned how they prepared it.

Since June, we have also gone blueberry picking, apple picking, and to the Farm park (which included the chance to help milk a cow) -- all within a half hour drive of our home. And the museums are so much cheaper, with free parking -- and free zoo admission every Monday. The libraries are open on Sundays and have playrooms and weekly activities.

So our son has done more activities outside the home in the eight months we've been here than in his first three years in Los Angeles. Yay!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

TV songs

Just wanted to share something random...

We've been watching "Smallville" on DVD. (We watch whole shows from Netflix.) We've notcied how perfectly they select the music - I haven't noticed something like that since Party of Five many years ago. Anyway, from the first time I heard James Blunt's song "You're Beautiful," I was convinced that it was perfect for the show, both in the words and style of the music, for one of the loft scenes with Lana and Clark. I told my husband that I know they will use it. We are only up to season 2 and don't watch the current ones yet, but just out of curiousity I found a site listing all the music used on the show. Sure enough, they used the song just 2 weeks ago!

Anyway, just thought I'd share. There is a lot more serious stuff I'll be getting to this week...

Thanks to everyone who is reading!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Respect in the Workplace

Simple rule for employers - if you show respect to your employees, you can expect them to show respect to you. If you treat them like garbage, they will have no incentive to respect you or the company.

I have been fortunate that in most of my job experience, my employer has treated me in a respectful manner. For me, that means speaking politely, giving clear descriptions of what the expected duties are, noticing when I have done a good job, and paying the agreed amount on time. If there are things that need to be done differently, the employer explains what the problem is (not waiting to drop it into a bad performance review months later) and then allows the employee to resolve the problem.

I even stayed at a job that was seriously under-paying me because I felt that I was a vital part of the organization, I was treated amazingly by my boss and coworkers, and I was given the opportunity to contribute in ways that developed my resume to make it worthwhile.

What the employer has gotten from me in return is someone who feels loyal, and therefore acts in the best interest of the company by going out of my way to do the best possible job and looking for ways to help beyond my basic job description. It also means that I feel a responsibility to show up promptly, not goof off on company time, and speak politely to customers. It also means that when the time has come to leave a job (which I have always done for a specific life-event reason, never because I was seeking a better position), I went immediately to my employe to give them notice and made sure to complete projects and get things in order before my last day,

Now here's the more usual situation, which is what my husband is facing now:

Employer is short and sarcastic to the employees. Employee is left wondering what exactly is expected, because no matter what they do it turns out to be wrong. Employer never notices the positive, but never fails to notice the negative. Employer has in their head a list of what the person has done wrong but never mentions it until review time, so that the employee has no opportunity to improve. Bonuses (or even paychecks!) are not what was promised, are late or otherwise messed with.

And the resulting employee behavior:

Employee feels, at best, neutral to the job - and at worst, vindictive and out to get even with the company. Therefore, they do the minimum amount of work they can get away with, and maximize how much time they spend chatting or doing personal business. They certainly never see if they can go above and beyond their assignments because they know they will receive no credit for doing so. They don't worry about coming late, take off fake sick days, act rudely to customers. And when the time comes to leave a job because they found something better or just can't take the stress anymore, they quit - minimal if any notice, and certainly not concerned with making the tranition easier on the employer. (They may even enjoy the idea of leaving the employer with a screwed up workplace.)

My husband is intending to quit with no notice at the end of this week. After all, the company cut his bonuses with no notice, never instituted his pay raise that he was promised THREE MONTHS ago, and the 200 people laid off last month found out when they showed up to work and the news cameras were outside.